From Reconstruction through the Civil Rights/Black Liberation Movement, to today’s demand for a radical restructuring of this country’s policies regarding policing, criminal justice, and funding of health and human needs, the tireless work and innovative ideas of Black organizers have proven that another world is possible. Black cooperative economics – with special energy and insight from Black women and queer Black folx – has delivered justice, prosperity, and security when it has been systematically denied to Black communities. All this has occurred despite a system that denies Black communities critical access in the realm of funding, ideas, leadership, and capacity-building.
Last year, Black organizers, leaders and activists from NEC member organizations explored how NEC can be a powerful and committed network for countering the historical and persistent imbalance of resources. NEC has not been immune to this racial dichotomy as its structure and membership – consisting largely of white-led organizations – have benefitted from the complex web of systems of privilege and exclusion. Guided by a sincere desire to take immediate concrete steps towards rectifying this inequity, we are now acting to redistribute the power of money and ideas by investing a portion of our budget to support the power of Black-led organizations, organizers, and ideas – which are too often ignored, silenced, and appropriated.
Thanks to the incredible support of NEC members and funders we have over $300,000 to distribute and that means we can double the impact from last year. We will prioritize the Black-led NEC members as a continued intentional act of reparations at a time when we must acknowledge both how nonprofit organizations benefit from structural racism and racial capitalism, and the role we should play in dismantling it. We must reckon with the reality that the organizations that are funded to address challenges impacting Black communities have historically been white-led and that the more Black and radical the organizing, the less likely groups have been to historically receive funding. This runs against the value of self-determination that is fundamental to the work of building a New Economy.
Our collective redistribution works to tilt this power imbalance to rightfully support the self-determination of Black organizers in the decision-making and resource allocation that has direct influence on their communities. We recognize that since the start of the pandemic, the visions for liberation in Black communities have relied on what could be essentially defined as solidarity economy – incorporating the long-standing pursuit of liberation and self-determination as a counterweight to the oppressive impacts of a white supremacist and dangerous capitalist economy.
We’ve seen these in full effect throughout the course of the pandemic. Race and socioeconomic status — or, more simply, power — largely influences who is allowed to shelter in place. During this pandemic, full employment is considered a privilege to which Black and brown people disproportionately do not have access. Working a job that allows you to stay home provides you with safety, security, and health capital that is denied to frontline workers. Mutual aid and collective action will get us through this pandemic; and that mutual aid work includes people who have steady income redistributing what they can to those who are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic. Those privileged enough to work from home have moved on from a pandemic that is very much still happening and impacting Black and brown workers at continued alarming rates – a fact that will be made all the more difficult with an incoming recession.
Racism is not something that just happens; it is intentionally shaped through discriminatory, anti-Black policies that prevent Black communities from achieving financial security and communal wealth. We do not need to wait for government action in order to begin the process of paying reparations. We can start that healing now.
We are so happy to be at the point where our initial intention is being expanded upon. More than growth and increasing the fundraising goal (something we’ve already achieved), we aim to widen the Black Solidarity Economy Fund’s reach. We wish to ensure connection with Black leadership and communities that may not define themselves in terms of “solidarity economy” yet align perfectly with this vision and desired impact.
Our democratized process of distributing funding will continue to be through a collective granting process led by Black members in our network for Black-led organizations and members in our network. For those that have not been members, we also hope to engage and invite y’all in.
The Black NEC Working Group and NEC Staff